During my three years of covering Chicago for A Hamburger Today, I had the pleasure of eating an impressive array of the area's burgers. Some were good, some were not so good, and more than a few were simply outstanding. Here's a reminder of the 15 best.
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The Pig Mac comes with three different kinds of pork on a glistening, toasted, eggy challah bun that's, naturally, topped with sesame seeds. The top half of the sandwich includes two pig parts, pork loin and bacon, along with the requisite special sauce, pickles and lettuce.
All too often, steakhouses serve burgers unworthy of a restaurant thoroughly devoted to beef. At Chicago Cut Steakhouse, that is decidedly not the case. The massive burger, made from a blend of dry-aged beef, is worthy of one of the better steakhouses in Chicago.
Wiener and Still Champion is known for four things: great old school char burgers, an insane collection of fried foods, creative sauces, and stellar fries. The Faux Poutine Burger brings all of that together in one over the top and extremely messy meal.
The reinvention of street food by chefs with a fine dining background continues at The Peasantry, the new restaurant from the team behind Franks 'n Dawgs. The entire menu consists of low-brow classics, from chicken wings to pigs in a blanket to, naturally, burgers. While the lamb burger didn't knock my socks off, the intensely flavorful beef and bone marrow burger is unquestionably a winner.
From the West Randolph Street location to the upscale diner menu, almost everything about Au Cheval is textbook 2012 trendiness. But the burgers, genuine throwbacks to the days before custom beef blends and overindulgent toppings, star some of the best griddled patties to be had in Chicago.
No matter what happens, Nellcôte, the newest hot spot in Chicago's West Loop, is going to be known as the only restaurant that makes pizza from flour ground in-house. From the looks of things, Chef Jared Van Camp is already making some very good pizza and could be on the way to having something truly special.
There is no question that chef Kevin Hickey has the skills to blow minds with his cooking. And from personal experience, I know he can make as good of a burger as anyone in Chicago. But the burger at Allium, while good, is not going to rock anyone's world. The miso butterscotch milkshake, on the other hand, will make you want to take up residence in the Four Seasons.
The fact that all pizzas from The Rolling Stonebaker are made in fully operational mid-century Studebakers should be enough to get anyone to try the place once. That the pizzas are delicious and creative is why people keep going back.
If the Sweets and Snacks Expo were a country, it would be called Awesomeland. About the size of three football fields, the Expo brings together candy manufacturers and distributors from all over the world for their biggest opportunity of the year to find new customers and reconnect with existing ones. The best part? Every single one of them brings samples.